Swimming is many things to many different people. For some, it’s a relaxing pastime and a way to cool off during the summer months. For others, it’s a regular form of exercise or even a competitive sport. But there are those that see swimming is a source of great fear and anxiety. If your child is afraid of the water, it’s important that they learn to overcome this so that they can learn the vital life skill of swimming. Keep reading to learn how you can help your child overcome their fear of the water.
The sooner you introduce your child to the water, the easier it’ll be for both of you. Many parents enroll their children in baby swimming classes when they’re just a few months old. Not only can this help infants learn to save themselves in the event of them falling into water unattended, but it will also make it less likely that they’ll be afraid of the water when they’re older.
Of course, if your child already fears the water, this is likely not an option. However, you should still start introducing them to the water as soon as possible. While you may be tempted to just wait and hope your child will outgrow this fear over time, this isn’t likely; being exposed to the water and learning that it isn’t something that needs to be feared is the best way to handle it.
Understand Their Fears
While you need to be encouraging your child to confront their fears, you shouldn’t belittle or demean them for being afraid. Some adults think they can shame a child out of being afraid of something like swimming, but this isn’t a healthy approach. Rather, you should take the time to listen to and understand your child’s fear.
Often, a fear of swimming isn’t even about the water itself. Children may dislike swimming because the chlorine or saltwater irritates their eyes. They may also be afraid that there’s something underneath the water. Try to get your child to explain what it is about swimming that scares them.
If it’s hard to get them to discuss it, pay attention to what bodies of water seem to scare them most. Fear of swimming in natural bodies of water, but not in pools, may indicate a fear of something underneath the water. On the other hand, a child who has no trouble swimming in a lake but refuses to swim in a pool may be afraid of the chlorine hurting their eyes.
Once you understand your child’s exact fears in relation to swimming, the more prepared you’ll be to help confront them.
Take Slow Steps
To put it bluntly, forcing your child into the water or tricking them into swimming before they’re ready is an excellent way to increase their fears and diminish their trust in you as their parent. Please, don’t do this. Instead, take slow steps. Take your child to the pool and allow them to observe without going near the water. The next time you go, encourage them to sit beside you on the edge of the pool. Get in yourself and play catch with some pool toys while your child remains on the edge of the pool; show them that being at the pool can be fun, but that they don’t have to get in if they prefer not to.
By progressing in these small ways, you’ll eventually be able to help your child enter the water freely and without fear. If this process seems like something you’d like professional help with, consider enrolling your child in kid or baby swimming lessons in Los Angeles at SwimRight Academy. Our expert instructors will work with your child to help them overcome their fear of swimming so they can learn to have fun in the water!